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Hotel & Resort Reviews: Antigua & Barbuda
St. James's Club 04/15/02
Reviewers Rating: Excellent
I recently returned from a 10 day break with my family at St. James's Club. The only other Caribbean Island we had previously been to was Grand Cayman.

We have been to similar style 'resort' hotels in Florida (on several occasions) and Australia but have never before gone on an all-inclusive basis as this one was.

Accomodation - We had 2 interconnecting hotel rooms which were very good and very clean. Housekeeping visited twice a day. The rooms had air-con though this was a little noisy.

Food and drink - There are 4 restaurants on-site though, depending on occupancy, they are not necessarily all open each night. For Dinner, you do need to make a reservation. This is done at Guest Services from 7.00p.m. the previous evening. As with all large hotels we have ever visited, there is a system, which, once you know it, is not a problem. The quality and quantity of food is excellent and the only problem is the risk of over-indulging.

On the all-inclusive package all drinks served by the glass are included and the house wine was quite palatable. A drinks cart visits the beaches which, though infrequent is not a problem. Whichever of the two beaches you are on, there is a bar no more than a few hundred yards away. The bar staff will mix all sorts of cocktails for you but you need to know what to ask for.

Staff - In our experience the staff were extremely friendly and helpful but take into account you are in a country where life is much more laid back and nothing is ever rushed. We found here, as in any other place we have visited, that if you are friendly and pleasant to the staff, they will respond accordingly. We encountered a couple of situations where guests were being unfairly rude to staff and then getting the response such treatment deserved.

Beaches - The oceanside beach usually offers a nice breeze and plenty of sunbeds and chairs. The lagoon on the other side is well sheltered and is the home of all the watersports activities. We were at the hotel over the Easter period when it was fully occupied but the beach was never overcrowded and there was plenty of equipment available.

Activities/entertainment -

There are 6 good tennis courts. Obviously most people prefer to play in the evening as it cools down so booking is advised. As well as the free kayaking/sailing/windsurfing water skiing is available at a reasonable cost. There are a few organised activities (including a Kidz Club for the under 12's) but this resort is not intended to be an 'in your face' holiday camp style of place. Evening entertainment too is limited but we found that we tended to get up early in the morning and were quite happy to get to bed at a sensible time.

Location - St James's Club is about as far from St Johns as you can get (about 35 minutes away) but we found that an advantage. English Harbour and Shirley Heights are only 10 minutes away. We hired a 4 wheeled drive vehicle from the on-site Avis which was quite reasonable and enabled us to visit a number of places. The roads are interesting and you do really need a 4-wheeled drive vehicle but it was great fun. The local people were all very friendly and unlike other countries we have visited, we never felt threatened in any way, even in some very remote places.

Organised trips can be arranged but the cost of these can add up and many are similar to those found in almost every other tourist location in the world.

All in all the holiday was all that we asked for and more and we have already made arrangements to go back to Antigua and St James's Club next year.

Stuart

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